Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My first year in my first business- the funnest adventure yet

This is not a post on travel, but it is a tale of a great adventure and how it relates to travel
These are the Day 1 Boys, they are the original 6 who came out everyday all summer and put their blood sweat and tears, and  face to shield overspray to make this business a success. Behind us is a house we turned from red to blue. We had just finished watching the stanley cup final, and wanted a team picture.

For the past 9 months since getting back from Zambia, I signed up to run a College Pro Painter Franchisee in West Vancouver. College Pro is a company that takes entry level entrepenurs and teaches them how to run a painting business. I decided to become an entrepreneur after traveling completely by myself for three months to South East Asia back in 2014, and gaining a better understanding of my own personality. Things like hitch hiking, couch surfing, sleeping with Tigers, wandering off into the Jungle on my own, and really enjoying all of it made me realize that I need to really live a life where I can at least have the goal of creating my vision/ visions. The 9-5 lifestyle which I had tried in many different situations always ended the same: I got really excited about starting a new job, but after the first 2 months, I would get bored, try to change things up, fail at some level, and end up leaving the organization, except my job working in the wilderness with young offenders, which I did for two years, and still look back with fond memories daily upon and wish I was there. I didn't like quitting, but I have a policy of listening to my heart in all areas of my life, and deep down I would always find the job not what I was put on this planet for.

How did I get the franchisee:

During university, I had friends who had signed up to run a College Pro Painting business. Both of them seemed to have a lot of success with it, and would talk about it all the time, literally one of them would be in a big social setting with no other business people around and talk about painting. Jared actually has his own travel blog and I read it and think its truely inspiring, feel free http://traveltransforms.me/ I was offered to get into the business three years ago, but I was good with not watching paint dry and thought I would be better sticking to my degree (I look back on this and laugh). 3 years later, I move back to Vancouver after working in the arctic, northern BC, and traveling to many different places. My expenses for what I would define as a reasonable lifestyle in Vancouver are about $3000 a month. There are virtually no jobs in Vancouver that would allow you to travel when you want, that I would be passionate about doing that could pay that right away. I really wanted to live in Vancouver as its my home town, I have been gone a long time, and just wanted to be home. I decided I was going to start my own business and find a way to make it work. I looked at network marketing businesses, and other business. I decided to go with College Pro because:
1- It is a straight forward business: You put paint on a house, you get paid
2- It is full of other young entrepreneurs, giving it the potential to be a lot of fun
3- I thought it would be a good business to learn as it would give me a taste in a lot of different areas:
* sales
* Production
* Financials
*book keeping
* Human Resources
 4- I could focus the business in a small area, stay in Vancouver, and stay active

The college pro team really helped out and painted my van and many others blue. A tradgedy occured in June and my van broke down for good and I had to scrap it, eventually we moved on. 
After 5 long and intense interviews, aptitude tests and criticism from people I don't ask advice from, I signed a 30 something page contract, and legally and officially registered my business name:

Ciaran Olsen Boss Painting

(why did I choose this name? Because I want to smile every time a customer asks me who to write the cheque out to; and on a more serious note, making a claim like this I would have to step up to the plate or I would tarnish my name again)

The first day of training for this new business was in mid January, the morning after I arrived back from a plane from Cape Town South Africa the night before. I took a 40 minute bus ride to get to the conference center, and for the next two days I learned how to sell paint jobs.

Ready to go for the season, open for business

We left the conference with the direction to start knocking on doors in are turf, to sign people up for estimates to then book them in to paint there houses for the upcoming season. I was temporarily living at my parents house in the suburbs, so I planned on driving my dodge caravan 1991 back and fourth everyday for door knocking.Why did I have a dodge Caravan from 1991? Ill let you enter the joke here.

Celebrating the summer often, we were blessed to have one of are painters be the bouncer at a local club
The first night of door knocking in my turf, I went alone. It was dark out and raining. The first door I knocked on was not interested. The next three signed up for estimates!!!! I couldn't believe my luck (later I realized I had picked the hottest street in my turf to start marketing)! I recruited a friend through an accidental text to a wrong number to come market with me, as well as other marketers. I didn't mind knocking on peoples doors in the dark and pouring rain, as many times throughout my travels I had been out in the dark hitch hiking or stranded and needed to ask strangers for help. I actually found it quite enjoyable, as its like you get to meet every person in a neighborhood and try to convince them to paint there house, what a rush!!!!
My first sale:
One of my marketers knocked on a door and booked an estimate with a Taiwanese family. I did the estimate a few days later, quoting this huge mansion on over 10k to paint there house. The owner had to leave during the estimate so after getting the price and writing up the contract I showed it to the daughters (Remember at this point I didn't know how to paint a house). The daughters said that there mom would probably be happy with this quote and would let me know. I felt defeated as I was leaving the house without a sale, and thought that I hadn't even been able to talk to the decision maker about the contract, and that when she saw it she would think the price is way to high and go with someone else. Two days later I am driving around Vancouver doing estimates and I get a phone call: Me: "Ciaran Speaking".  Customer:"hello Ciaran this is -----". Me: "hi ----- how are you?" Customer: "I am great, we would like you to do the painting! When can you do it?" Me: "One second let me check" I put down the phone and cover the reciever and yell a full hearten: "YYYYEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!" I pick up the phone again and say "Hi -----, we have one slot available in June, does that work?". I went and collected the deposit two days later, all the time sweating bullets hoping that they don't back out. And finally the first cheque written out to "Ciaran Olsen Boss Painting" is written. I realized that I really enjoy sales, as its a game to try and convince someone to take positive action, and I love it, its like showing up to the poker table at the casino and playing highstakes, trying to convince everyone you got a good hand or a crappy hand, and of course in the case of painting, only the best from us.

First house painted:

The first house ever painted by Boss Painting by Boss painters
Our first house we painted was a big one. I arranged a ex employee to train my employees and myself on how to paint. It took us two weeks to paint it, with the final day staying until 9pm painting with flashlights during the customers back yard house party. But we got er done, and were off to the races, and suprisingly all the jobs ended well with a lot of happy customers and employees.

It was a great summer for everyone, we often went out for good times.
How much work is required to run a business like this?
An average week I am working about 80 hours on the business, which I don't mind at all, as I love being able to have no limits on how much I can make, how I can run my business, and making it a great place to work and be a part of.
Paintball day at the end of the season, Jack this hilarious guy who is amazing at door knocking and another friend and temp worker came out for a day of paintball with other College Pro as well
Sometimes the views from the tops of houses were world class
Would I recommend it?

I spent $30,000 of my own money on marketing, equipment, employees wages etc before I had even collected my first pay check. I had no guarantee of making any $$, and only if I was able to sell and produce paint jobs and get paid by customers, and manage the business in a way that would be profitable would I make anything from it. Imagine it is January, its pouring rain and dark out, your spending thousands of dollars a month investing into this business you know very little about, and hopefully by the summer you will break even. That being said I would recommend this business or any business with a proven track record of success to anyone who wants to be a boss, in charge of there own destiny, and refuses to live in a life of mediocrity. I was okay if I had lost all of my money as atleast I was working towards my dreams.
This is how many color samples were needed for are best customer, literally he brought us baked goods everyday, and at the end had us all over for amazing sushi.
It resulted in Chimney of the year
To get this sale, I had done the quote for him. He had gotten three quotes. He invited me to stay for dinner. He was a great cook. So the next day I baked a three cheese lazanga, sent him a picture and asked him if he wanted some. After that the deal was sealed
What kept me going during the hard times?

-My vision: I want to build a farm where people can come and visit/ live on with a healthy lifestyle and a safe haven from where ever they are coming from. Furthermore I want to continue to go on great adventures around the world and visit and help my friends in Zambia so I need to learn how to be the creator and designer of my own life.

I know that this painting business will not take me directly to these goals, but it would be a training ground to move me towards these goals escpecially in leadership and sales.

I am now at the end of my first year in the painting business and I am closed down and am writing this from Peru. I am so glad I signed up for the College Pro Experience. I met so many great people, worked together with amazing people, and laughed a lot. That being said I also got a lot of critisim from a lot of people, as I learned that when ever you want to do somthing big not everyone is gonna want to marry you. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, meaning I learned something. I did not get rich as its not a get rich quick scheme, but feel I got out what I put in, and that is all I can ask for. I was also blessed with winning the rookie of the year award, I think the biggest award I have ever gotten on a plaque in my life.

"It is the number of hours worked for free that separates an entrepreneur from an employee".

Some of the franchisee organized by a franchisee named Kit allowed us to paint the boys and girls club.

Wanted to give a special shout out to the whole team including all the painters, marketers, the whole College Pro team who put up with literall thousands of questions and time you put in to help me make are business a success, the customers for taking a chance on us. I can never repay you all for the selfless help you have given.

I am back in January for my second season in the business, its gonna be tough to beat this years good times, but we will find a way.

1 comment:

Calena said...

I like it, Ciaran! Great story!!! You'll be even better in 2016 with more great experiences!!! Meanwhile, have fun in South America! This is not Calena - it's Mom! I don't know how to change the address!